Although each investigation is unique most investigations include the following steps: (1) definition of objectives (2) collection of existing data (including literature review), (3) field investigations and sampling, (4) laboratory analysis (5) data interpretation and conclusions, and (6) report preparation and recommendations. Failure to follow these steps may result in excessive cost and, in the worst case rejection of the study results as inadequate.
Important steps are:
- to gather existing site information
- conduct preliminary site visit
- gather site data and reports (e.g. site maps, aerial photographs, historical ownership information, facility or site related geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, climatology, ecology and demographic information, land use information, results of previous site studies, data quality control data, known influence of other nearby sites)
- collect background literature
- conduct site history interviews
Of particular interest during the evaluation of site information should be the sites physical characteristics, the physical and chemical characteristics of the potential contaminants of interest and the likely transport pathways. The initial studies should be sufficient to identify a preliminary conceptual site model (CSM) of the site.